Challenges to improving adolescent nutrition in Bangladesh and Tanzania

Committee, the nation's largest NGO and a supporter of the BINP, is exploring new programs for adolescent boys that focus on male adolescent health as well as educating young men on women's reproductive health, women's rights, and infant and child care.

In Tanzania, there are two issues driving increased awareness of adolescent malnutrition. "Part of this is simple demographics because almost 23 percent of the population is teenagers," says Levinson. The other main driving force is the effect of AIDS, a leading cause of death for young people in Tanzania and many other African nations. "Recognizing that the country's future--its leaders, labour pool, parents, caregivers and providers--will emerge from this group [adolescents]...there is a growing commitment in Tanzania to invest in adolescents with a view to attaining a healthier and more productive adult population," write the authors.

The authors also present preliminary results of a Tufts study on adolescent health and nutrition in Tanzania which indicate that about 19 percent of adolescents in a large rural area of Tanzania are undernourished, a level that is consistent with others parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. As with other studies on adolescent growth, "boys were found to be almost twice as malnourished as girls (64 percent vs. 36 percent)."

"We are examining relationships between adolescent nutritional status and household food security, periodic household food shortages, skipping meals, school attendance, and orphan status," says Levinson. "This data will guide future efforts in Tanzania and permit the development of Tanzanian counseling materials comparable to those used by the programs in Bangladesh."

"Increased attention to adolescent malnutrition in developing countries, as reflected in some of the pioneering studies and project activities discussed in this paper, is heartening," conclude the authors. "However, more research is needed to better understand th

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University

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